Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. isn't afraid of shaking things up every now and then, whether by revealing that an established team member has been evil all along, or giving the science duo with a comfortable brother-sister dynamic a new romantic relationship arc. The end of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 3 gave us a sneak peek at upcoming changes, with S.H.I.E.L.D. director Phil Coulson demoted to being a regular S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, and the mention of a new Director in charge of the division.
There are some major new characters expected to join Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in season 4, not the least of which is Gabriel Luna as iconic Marvel character Ghost Rider. Another important new cast member has just been revealed, however, and it's someone who will surely play a hugely pivotal role in the future of the series.
Deadline reports that Jason O'Mara (Complications) will be playing the new Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. His character name has not been revealed, but apparently he will be playing "a character whose Marvel roots go back to the 1940s." Marvel's Head of Television, Jeph Loeb, had this to say about the casting choice, and about O'Mara's role in the upcoming season.
"Bringing Jason into the mix as the New Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. forces everyone, particularly Coulson, to reevaluate their role in the Agency... Jason has both the physical presence and acting dynamics that will connect with and challenge even the most loyal agent."
O'Mara's filmography includes some work on the other side of the comic book fence, as the voice of Batman in animated films like Batman vs. Robin and Justice League: Throne of Atlantis. He also played time-travelling police officer Sam Tyler in the U.S. version of Life on Mars, and has appeared in various other TV series, including The Good Wife and Terra Nova.
If fire is the theme of the season, then the new Director could perhaps be a version of the original Human Torch, who was an android created by a scientist called Phineas T. Horton. It just so happens that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has already introduced a future-tech-obsessed scientist (Holden Radcliffe, played by John Hannah) who was shown creating a Life-Model Decoy in the season 3 finale. The original purpose of Life-Model Decoys was to act as duplicates of existing S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, so that they could create diversions during missions or save living people from being killed in action. However, with a bit of tweaking Radcliffe could potentially create an LMD with a few extra powers - flight and pyrokinesis, for example. If O'Mara's character name is revealed to be Jim Hammond, or some variation thereof, we could be in for a TV version of the Human Torch.
That said, the Human Torch is far from the only Marvel character who was created in the 1940s, and the new Director could be markedly different from whichever character he's based on. However, the reveal that he does have comic book roots, rather than being a completely original character, is certainly intriguing.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 4 premieres Tuesday, September 20 @10pm on ABC.